The "Politics" of Classic Car Ownership

If you were to survey our fellow staffers, associates, friends and family, you would discover a variety of opinions regarding their political stance. Yet, despite all of the related hoopla we are exposed to on a daily basis, we hope you are pleased we never allow politics to somehow sneak into our posts. We figure it this way; the nightly news doesn't cover Classic cars and we don't cover politics - PERIOD, plain and simple...well, maybe just a little.
Sticking to policy was going great until a rather lively debate "spilled" over whilst enjoying our morning coffee. Don't be aghast as we were all laughing about it a few moments later. 

But there were two "political" points, once said by the current Presidential nominees, which opened another discussion regarding Classic car ownership and vehicle documentation.

It developed into what we think will be an interesting article providing our readers can accept use of the "quotes" as "tongue in cheek" humor. (*def. - tongue-in-cheek - a figure of speech used to imply that a statement is humorously or otherwise not seriously intended, and it should not be taken at face value.)





First, please notice neither "opinion" is "left' nor "right". They are squarely in the center and remain neutral for each reader to decide on their own. We did however find some irony in how our "coffee cup debate" unfolded.

Establishment Point - It Doesn't Make Any Difference For Most Cars
High end collectors and "expert" appraisers will tell you documentation is only truly useful within the top tier of the Classic car market, used to support provenance, quality, condition, rarity and price. They will tell you failure to have such information will affect desirability, interest and ultimately lower the value, but only for a select group of cars.
They are also likely to tell you that historically speaking, that is the way it has always been and will always be. Further they may also advise there is no proof such records would support greater desirability, more interest or higher prices when applied across the general market.

Counterpoint - You Can't Have It Both Ways 
The above point may have been true when "Collector" cars were for the most part vehicles built between the early 1900's through "Pre-War", Ferrari's were worth only $4,500, the average "Classic" was worth a few hundred dollars and the Collector market immature, but the market has changed significantly.

Classic Ferrari's now sell for tens of millions of dollars, the "garden variety" Classic costs over $25,000 and according to the most recent available information, the largest number of Classics are worth between $35,000 and $70,000. Yet the "market" continues to define a very small group of vehicles as "Classics", leaving the remaining vehicles to be considered little more than "old cars".
The counter point is if documentation improves value within the above noted group of vehicles, shouldn't the use and benefits of documentation be extended to every owner or buyer of every type of Classic regardless of price, rarity or exclusivity?
There appears to be no valid reason for the majority of owners to subjugate interest, desirability or valuation of their Classic or disassociate the documented quality and condition other than a belief in an autocratic market "mindset". 

Therefore simply refusing to acknowledge documentation as important or for general use is illogical.
Using modern cars as a valid parallel point, when that market changed, with prices and sales volume moving higher, practices to differentiate one car from another became Standard Operating Procedure. To address these dynamic changes, the pre-owned market developed and now heavily depends upon vehicle history reports and certified vehicles to set interest, desirability and value regardless of age or price. 

Yet for some unexplainable reason, a reliance on a similar process has eluded the majority of the Collector car market.

In conclusion, while variations will undoubtedly occur across the market, the argument that the use of a well formed vehicle dossier supported by documentation to validate condition, quality and price of a Classic is only valid when associated with certain cars is absurd. 

Therefore, if the majority of current owners begins to document their Classic and buyers become more dependent on the same, we'd all be better off.

Establishment Point - Documenting a "Garden Variety" Classic is Expensive and Unnecessary.
Available details reflect due to the preferences of the market in general, documenting the average Classic is a fruitless endeavor, a waste of time and will not impact desirability, interest or price. Experts will advise when it comes to the average Classic, no one pays attention to these details anyway, so why bother?
Counterpoint -  The Cost is Negligible and Can Provide Significant Benefit
The first thing one should ask is exactly what is a "garden variety" Classic. Is that a $10,000 car, a $25,000 car or a $100,000 car? Does the term refer to a Classic that has had only the things you can see updated or does it include virtually all Classics?
The point is it doesn't matter. Every Classic can be documented to a point. In some cases that could mean the owner has every shred of information dating back to when the car was built or it could mean a detailed record of when the car was pulled from a scrap yard, with exacting details of the restoration and all improvements since that time. But, in either case, when documentation can be called upon to validate quality, condition and more, nothing is being hidden.

It's ironic that if an average person was about to spend somewhere between $25,000 and $75,000 on a pre-owned car, it is very unlikely they would not want to have access to a recorded vehicle history. 

If that is factually accurate, then why should a Classic be any different. It's time to bring quality and condition into the picture. An owner should be able to substantiate their Classic with documentation, use it to set value and any future buyer should be able to access these details to assess and differentiate one Classic against another.

In conclusion, other than some time and effort there is nothing to lose. As measuring the quality and condition of a Classic continues to gain traction, the positive benefits are far more likely to be far reaching.  

Documenting the known details and history of a Classic is not going to make a car that can be truly valued at $25,000 suddenly worth a far higher amount, but it will prevent the value of a Classic from being measured improperly, especially when the day to exchange ownership arrives.  

A Change Is In The Air
While only a handful of owners and auctions are attempting to revolutionize the "market mindset", they have recognized the importance of documentation to support interest, desirability and price. As examples, both the Keno Brother's Fine Automobile Auction and  The Finest Vehicle Auction have integrated detailed vehicle documentation to deliver accurate representation and diffuse any logical concern any future owner may have.

The main point here is "the change is working". While currently limited to the high end of the market, it's time for a market-wide "revolution" to recognize and use documentation to declare a vehicle's quality and condition. It's the future of the Collector car market.
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